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Disneyland Adds 'Nemo' Feature

Source: Shanghai Daily Time: 2007-11-06

Walt Disney Co, the world's largest theme park operator, opens the "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" attraction today to help sustain attendance gains after a 50th anniversary promotion at its parks last year.

The ride is the first at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, based on Pixar's "Finding Nemo" movie. It replaces "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," shuttered nine years ago.

Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger is adding attractions to draw larger crowds to Disney's theme parks after last year's anniversary campaign. Using Pixar characters in the parks was part of his strategy for paying US$8.06 billion for the animation studio last year. "Nemo" is the top-grossing Pixar movie with US$864.6 million in worldwide box-office sales, Bloomberg News said.

"It's only natural Disney would put in a ride for the Pixar movie that has grossed the most," said David Miller, a Los Angeles-based analyst for SMH Capital. "We have always been somewhat surprised even before the Pixar acquisition there aren't more rides associated with the films."

Disney, based in Burbank, California, also is opening a "Pirate's Lair" on Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island. Last July, the company retooled Disneyland's "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction to include animatronic characters from the films starring Johnny Depp.

The "Nemo" ride may help boost Disneyland's attendance after the success of the 50th anniversary, Miller said. "There should be a bump."

Last year's campaign boosted attendance by 6 percent to 112.5 million visitors globally, data from the Themed Entertainment Association showed.

The increase was driven by an 8.6 percent rise at Animal Kingdom near Orlando, Florida, which added a roller coaster, and 5.2 million visitors at Hong Kong Disneyland in its first year.

Disneyland had a 1.2 percent rise, smaller than at Animal Kingdom or another newer park, Disney's California Adventure in Anaehim, the trade group said. Disney used the anniversary of Disneyland to promote all of its parks worldwide.

"Don't forget, most fund managers hold Disney shares because of the parks and ESPN," Miller said. "They're not nearly as interested in consumer products or the studio."

The theme-park division is Disney's second-largest by revenue.

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